Grant Scantling likely faces life in prison without the possibility of parole after a Benton County jury unanimously convicted him Thursday of aggravated first-degree murder.
Scantling -- who also was convicted of first-degree burglary -- hung his head when the verdict was read. The 42-year-old will be sentenced Sept. 19.
Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller said the jury's determination of an "aggravated" murder charge was important to ensure more prison time.
"If there was not the aggravating circumstance, he would be looking at a sentencing range of 20-27 years," Miller said. "With the aggravating circumstance, he is looking at life without the possibility of parole."
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Scantling's attorney, Scott Johnson, said his client knew going into the trial that he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Johnson told the jury during closing arguments that there was no doubt that his client shot Franklin Palmer, 24, three times with a .45-caliber gun inside his ex-girlfriend's Kennewick home.
However, Johnson argued that the crime wasn't premeditated.
"We just had to embrace the fact that yes this happened and Grant was responsible for it," Johnson said after the verdict. "There was just no two ways about that."
"It was just trying to see if there was any way legally (the prosecution) couldn't prove the level of murder they charged," Johnson added. "We thought there was some really good evidence that he did not premeditate the murder of Mr. Palmer."
The testimony of Ann Krebs -- who is Scantling's ex-girlfriend and lived at the house where Palmer was killed -- and Michael Billado were key to the prosecution's case, Miller said. Billado initially told investigators he would not testify, but later agreed to testify after being held in jail.
"I think (Billado) was concerned about testifying," Miller said. "When he came in, he testified to the facts and was consistent with the testimony of Ann Krebs."
The effect of the crime on Krebs' three children, who were home at the time of the shooting, will last a lifetime, Miller said.
"I don't know that they will ever get over what they witnessed that day," he said. "Ms. Krebs too, with getting the gun pointed at her forehead. We think justice was achieved for everyone all around."
Scantling broke into Krebs' house on March 22 and shot Palmer in the head and the chest before pointing the gun at Krebs and threatening her.
Scantling fled to Spokane, where he eventually was arrested hours after the shooting.
Johnson will file a notice of appeal at Scantling's sentence.
"The appellate attorney will comb over everything and I am sure that person will have plenty to work with in an appeal," he said.
Scantling still is in shock after the verdict, Johnson said.
"He is processing that fact that he could be facing (life in prison)," he said. "I don't think he has had time to fully appreciate the weight of it yet."
-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Ty_richardson